More than 180,000 people have signed a petition calling for left-wing parties in France to join forces in the country’s next presidential election in 2022 to defeat a swath of right-wing figures.
The activists have organized a “Popular Primary” that would present a single “social and ecological” candidate to compete in the April elections.
“The message of this popular primary is to say that we have ecological emergencies and social emergencies that we cannot deny. We must act and to act we must win the next elections. And to win it, it’s simple, we have to stand together and not divide, “Cléo Belaïche, spokesperson for the association behind the main effort, told Euronews.
They have reduced this “citizen-driven” presidential primary to ten candidates who have until November 30 to decide whether to participate in the January vote.
There are three main candidates from the left who have already declared that they will run for president: Yannick Jadot, who won the Green Party primaries; Anne Hidalgo of the Socialist Party; and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, from his far-left France Unbowed party.
They are also named as part of the 10 candidates, five women and five men, in the popular primaries.
Although Jadot, Hidalgo and Mélenchon have not expressed interest in running in the popular primaries, so far three other elected candidates have agreed to participate.
But all three are currently below 8 percent, according to an October IFOP opinion poll, far behind incumbent Emmanuel Macron, far-right figures Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, and right-wing Xavier Bertrand, who will compete. for the Republican nomination in December.
“What is clear is that if there is not a single left-wing candidate, there is very, very little chance that any of these left-wing candidates can win the election. So, in a sense, they need to unite if they want to.” win, “said Simon Persico, a SciencesPo Grenoble researcher who specializes in environmental parties.
But Persico says that is unlikely to happen because each of the candidates wants to continue to exist in the French system.
“The presidential election is really important to exist in the political landscape,” says Persico, adding that supporting another candidate could have repercussions on their parties.
The activists of the Popular Primary do not give up.
They have been holding sit-ins in front of each of the tripartite headquarters to pressure environmentalists, socialists and the far-left France Unbowed to back the primaries.
They say the stakes are high amid a climate emergency and rising social inequalities.
A recent study showed the impact of the measures taken during Macron’s presidency: stated that the richest 1% experienced the greatest increase in purchasing power and only the poorest 5% of households did not see an increase in their standard of living during their administration.
“We need a primary because citizens need to reconnect with politics to decide who will be able to represent ideas to respond to ecological and social emergencies in 2022,” said Belaïche.
He also regretted the rising abstention rate during the French elections.
Catherine Corsini, a director who recently released a movie that takes place in a hospital during a Gilets Jaunes protest, said in an interview that it was unbelievable that there was no more will on the left to unite.
“Every time a new candidacy is announced, it exasperates me. I wanted to hit them,” he told Mediapart in a video interview.
The initiative has attracted attention due in part to the number of supporting signatures it has received, which is already greater than the Green Party primaries and the number of Socialist Party members.
It is even higher than the number of party members who will vote in the right-wing Republican party in early December.
He also received the support of some of the best-known political figures chosen by supporters to participate in popular primaries.
“Getting together is a very difficult challenge, but it is demanded by young people more committed and impatient than ever,” tweeted former Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, one of the ten candidates.
Taubira, who has said that he would not run for president in 2022 so as not to increase the number of candidates, supports the primaries and told organizers that they were right that 2022 needed to bring change.
The “Popular Primary” will take place between January 13 and 16 and would use a majority voting system where voters rank their approval of as many candidates as they wish.
“We have much more in common with each other than we have in common with Mr Zemmour, with Macron or with Le Pen,” says Belaïche.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism